uid

When I opposed Aadhaar in 2010 , I was called a BJP stooge. In 2016 I am still opposing Aadhaar for the same reasons and I am told I am a Congress die hard. No one wants to see why I oppose Aadhaar as it is too difficult. Plus Aadhaar is FREE so why not get one ? Ram Krishnaswamy

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mahatma Gandhi

In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. Mahatma Gandhi

“The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21. The right to privacy is not a guaranteed under the constitution, because privacy is not a fundamental right.” Article 21 of the Indian constitution refers to the right to life and liberty -Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi

“There is merit in the complaints. You are unwittingly allowing snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation. The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.” -A three judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said in an interim order.

Legal scholar Usha Ramanathan describes UID as an inverse of sunshine laws like the Right to Information. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizen, the UID does the inverse: it makes the citizen transparent to the state, she says.

Good idea gone bad
I have written earlier that UID/Aadhaar was a poorly designed, unreliable and expensive solution to the really good idea of providing national identification for over a billion Indians. My petition contends that UID in its current form violates the right to privacy of a citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is because sensitive biometric and demographic information of citizens are with enrolment agencies, registrars and sub-registrars who have no legal liability for any misuse of this data. This petition has opened up the larger discussion on privacy rights for Indians. The current Article 21 interpretation by the Supreme Court was done decades ago, before the advent of internet and today’s technology and all the new privacy challenges that have arisen as a consequence.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha

“What is Aadhaar? There is enormous confusion. That Aadhaar will identify people who are entitled for subsidy. No. Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t,” Jairam Ramesh

But Aadhaar has been mythologised during the previous government by its creators into some technology super force that will transform governance in a miraculous manner. I even read an article recently that compared Aadhaar to some revolution and quoted a 1930s historian, Will Durant. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

“I know you will say that it is not mandatory. But, it is compulsorily mandatorily voluntary,” Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Saba April 2017


Special

Here is what the Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, which examined the draft N I A Bill said.

1. There is no feasibility study of the project]

2. The project was approved in haste

3. The system has far-reaching consequences for national security

4. The project is directionless with no clarity of purpose

5. It is built on unreliable and untested technology

6. The exercise becomes futile in case the project does not continue beyond the present number of 200 million enrolments

7. There is lack of coordination and difference of views between various departments and ministries of government on the project

Quotes

What was said before the elections:

NPR & UID aiding Aliens – Narendra Modi

"I don't agree to Nandan Nilekeni and his madcap (UID) scheme which he is trying to promote," Senior BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha, Sept 2012

"All we have to show for the hundreds of thousands of crore spent on Aadhar is a Congress ticket for Nilekani" Yashwant Sinha.(27/02/2014)

TV Mohandas Pai, former chief financial officer and head of human resources, tweeted: "selling his soul for power; made his money in the company wedded to meritocracy." Money Life Article

Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government - Home Minister Chidambaram

To refer to Aadhaar as an anti corruption tool despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary is mystifying. That it is now officially a Rs.50,000 Crores solution searching for an explanation is also without any doubt. -- Statement by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP & Member, Standing Committee on Finance

Finance minister P Chidambaram’s statement, in an exit interview to this newspaper, that Aadhaar needs to be re-thought completely is probably the last nail in its coffin. :-) Financial Express

The Rural Development Ministry headed by Jairam Ramesh created a road Block and refused to make Aadhaar mandatory for making wage payment to people enrolled under the world’s largest social security scheme NRGA unless all residents are covered.


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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

11016 - Aadhaar: In the eye of the privacy storm - Live Mint

Mon, Apr 10 2017. 04 10 AM IST


There is an urgent need to generate a larger conversation on privacy, which involves all stakeholders—including the consumer—and this has to be done soonest

For the last few weeks, Aadhaar, or India’s unique identity number programme, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

First, there was the news about some business correspondents illegally storing biometric data and misusing it.

Second, there was a (orchestrated) backlash against the government’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing of income tax returns as well as for obtaining and retaining the permanent account number (PAN); which among other things will make it very difficult to elude the radar of the tax sleuth. Just remember that some 250 million PAN numbers have been issued so far and yet, there are only 40 million taxpayers.


The privacy warriors have used this moment to argue their long-standing case against Aadhaar. While no one can dispute their concerns on privacy, it is unfair to pick on Aadhaar as the sole example of such breach of privacy; indeed it has its shortcomings, as the Telangana example showed, but they don’t fall in the realm of privacy breaches.

This thing that just because it is government ordained it therefore implies that “big brother” is watching plays on our worst fears (Remember George Orwell’s gripping book: 1984). Even if it is true (personally, I hope not), it is more likely that we voluntarily put out more of our personal data in public domain—through the proliferation of social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and so on—which is vulnerable to misuse.

At this stage therefore it is important to agree to the first principles of this debate.

One, let us not be a Luddite and demand that Aadhaar, which is based on sound logic, be disabled. Second, as privacy warriors point out, there is an urgent need to protect privacy of data; and this is not just important from the point of view of individuals, even companies and countries are vulnerable (hackers mostly go after institutions, which curate all kinds of information).

Nandan Nilekani, also the person who gave us Aadhaar, explains this best. In a recent interview published in The Economic Times he said, “Privacy is an all-encompassing issue because of the rapid rate of digitisation the world is seeing. Your smart phone has sensors, GPS and is generating more and more information about everything; voice-activated devices could also be recording your conversations. There’s a profusion of CCTV cameras at malls, restaurants, ATMs recording your movements. We have a broader issue on how people retain their privacy in this world.”

But this is where we run into a problem, even though there is concurrence on the need for a privacy law. For one, there is a great reluctance on the part of the government to come out with one.

A draft law was put up for conversation in the second term of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, but never saw the light of the day; in fact, they are guilty of not creating Aadhaar under a law (something that was closed out only last year and that too after the Supreme Court stepped in).

Second, it is something easier said than done. As the latest cover story (8 April) of The Economist points out: “There is no way to make computers completely safe. Software is hugely complex. Across its products, Google must manage around 2 billion lines of source code—errors are inevitable. The average program has 14 separate vulnerabilities, each of them a potential of illicit entry. Such weaknesses are compounded by the history of the Internet, in which security was an afterthought.”

But this is not to suggest that we should just be wringing our hands and forget about privacy. Absolutely not.
Instead, there is an urgent need to generate a larger conversation on privacy, which involves all stakeholders—including the consumer (so critical as we move into the era of Internet of Things like smart TVs, Fridges and so on). And this has to be done soonest.

Till then, let us desist from submitting to fear-mongering on Aadhaar.

Anil Padmanabhan is executive editor of Mint and writes every week on the intersection of politics and economics.
His Twitter handle is @capitalcalculus.
Respond to this column at anil.p@livemint.com